MO schools depart from No Child Left Behind, look toward new plan

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - No Child Left Behind was replaced in December 2015 with the Every Student Succeeds Act, and educational leaders in southeast Missouri are optimistic about transitioning to the new law.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education approved Missouri's consolidated state plan for ESSA and it will be implemented at local elementary and secondary schools in Fall 2018.

The superintendent of the Poplar Bluff school district, Scott Dill, said he disliked NCLB's emphasis on using single tests to determine whether a school is good or bad, and that the transition to ESSA as a welcome change.

"Within the circle of professional educators that I work with and know I don't think anyone is lamenting the loss of No Child Left Behind," Dill said. "I don't think anyone is afraid of accountability in our public schools. Looking at what a school does is as important as looking at how a school does."

The assistant commissioner at the Office of Quality Schools in Missouri, Chris Neale, said he believes in the purposes of ESSA and described as a 'civil rights law' that addresses groups of student that are historically under served or are underperforming.

"ESSA tends to move in the direction of protection, supplemental instruction, compensating in some way for those hurdles that our students have to overcome," Neale said. "Places that were directive now provide local flexibility, state-level flexibility, options where leaders that know the problem best can use their judgment, their expertise to move things in the proper direction."

Missouri will receive about $320 million dollars in funding each year the new bill is in place.

Neale added that a unique funding area is that $30 million of the sum will help fund the Missouri Leadership Development System, which offers training and additional support for teachers, principals, and other school leaders.

The Dean of the College of Education at SEMO, Diana Rogers-Adkinson, said that the university through their Continuing Teacher Assistance Program and that emphasizing this area through the ESSA is 'extremely important.'

"The first couple of years at any job for any person can be a challenge," Rogers-Adkinson said. " its one thing to get good teachers in the classroom but making sure we build in that support and keep that moving as folks move into leadership positions. Missouri has really got a pretty good plan in place knowing that they have quality educators to help and make sure that we have quality schools."